HISTORY OF NSAI

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THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITERS ASSOCIATION

“It All Begins With A Song”

In 1967 there were approximately 80 songwriters in Nashville, Tennessee.  Eddie Miller, who wrote the classic song “Please Release Me, Let Me Go,” was determined that they needed a “voice”.  Over lunch, he, Buddy Mize and Bill Brock envisioned the Nashville Songwriters Association.

The first organizational meeting was held at the Old Professional's Club on Music Row. Forty-one songwriters were founding members of the organization including Kris Kristofferson, Marijohn Wilkin, Jerry Chestnut, Danny Dill, Liz and Casey Anderson, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and Ted Harris.

Maggie Cavendar became the first Executive Director of the Association.  Lorene Mann, who served as secretary, came up with the motto: “It All Begins With A Song.”  Their first advocacy effort was to get songwriters’ names placed on records. Not an industry practice at the time, the new group worked for more than four years and got record labels to agree to include the songwriters' name.  In 1967 the association held its first awards presentations and “There Goes My Everything” written by Dallas Frazier was named “Song of the Year.”  Dallas also received the “Songwriter of the Year” award.

A few years after it was founded NSAI added a second part to its mission: to also help aspiring songwriters and composers in every genre of music navigate the path to career success.  More than 150 NSAI Chapters are now in existence and a number of programs and services address the needs of songwriters at every level.

In 1988 Pat Rogers became NSAI Executive Director of NSAI. She created the NSAI Regional Workshops Program, the NSAI Professional Division and took NSAI’s advocacy work to a new level in Washington, D.C., and beyond. In 1993 the Nashville Songwriters Association began what would become America’s largest festival dedicated to the Song called “Tin Pan South,” paying homage to Tin Pan Alley and the history of the American songwriting profession.   Bart Herbison became Executive Director in 1997. 

Now, nearly 50 years later the Nashville Songwriters Association has become the most important “voice” for every American songwriter.  The organization continues a strong record of legislative, courtroom and marketplace advocacy on behalf of the songwriting profession.  From changing the U.S. Tax Code to creating group Copyright Infringement Insurance to becoming owners of The Bluebird Cafe, America’s premier songwriter venue, and purchasing the historic Music Mill on Music Row as its National headquarters, NSAI continues to grow in its achievements on behalf of those who create the music that marks the moments in our lives.